TURNSTILE TANTRUMS, a cash bash and allegations of fat cats threatened to steal county senior hurling semi-final headlines.
And, as the late Jimmy Magee of Memory Man fame would have said, it was all in a day’s sport.
There was very little to shout about in the first senior hurling championship game as Shamrocks eased past Clara at UPMC Nowlan Park on Sunday.
But outside the ground, before the throw-in and as the match was started there was plenty of what some might call fun and games as irate GAA fans took out their anger on stewards and turnstile operators.
An estimated 100 hurling aficionados, men and women from several parts of the city and county were angry because old age pensioners who reminded that they were following the game all of their lives, were asked to fork out a tenner despite being used to free admission.
The understanding appeared to be that games were free to the quarter-final stages and the Shamrocks v Clara game was a quarter-final.
Those who arrived with cash in hand, and who, according to present arrangements, were supposed to book online, were also up in arms as their money was refused.
‘We have our money and you won’t take if from us,’ shouted a supporter who said he was disgusted with the way the grassroots of the game were being abused.
A turnstile operator who explained that he and his colleagues were only doing their jobs brought little solace to hurling heroes who, to say the least, are not impressed with Kilkenny County Board’s modus operandi.
Some fans lashed out at members of the county board, describing them as fat cats who didn’t have to pay and enjoyed games from the comfort of the stands.
WAR TO PEACE
War soon turned to peace as an official attendance of over 4,000 watched the Shamrocks roll over a disappointing Clara.
The ‘semi’ that a majority was probably waiting for, the local derby between arch rivals James Stephens and Dicksboro, was a city sizzler.
This match turned out to be a hum dinger, a brilliant display of fireworks hurling, great value for money whatever supporters had paid in.
Following below par performances in their league games, the Village completed a super Lazarus-like act as they rose from the near dead to shorten the championship life of the ‘Boro boys.
A tit for tat tussle was edge of seat stuff as the lead see-sawed and showing real bottle the Village People uncorked the ambitions of a brave ‘Boro to edge into the final a mere puck of a ball better off than Micky Walsh’s team.
Instead of licking their wounds after disappointing league offerings, Stephens are now enjoying the fruits of championship success and will be hoping to go one better when confronted by TJ Reid’s Ballyhale Shamrocks or the pride of Tullaroan.
Whatever way the cookie crumbles, the final should be a pre-Hallowe’en cracker and regardless of who dares and wins, the notion is that the price of tickets and the bash over cash may again be a feature of any super hurling Sunday.
Meanwhile, Dicksboro and Thomastown GAA Clubs are celebrating county hurling final victories over James Stephens and the Rower Inistioge respectively.
For the record, match admissions for the weekend were as follows:
Minor hurling finals at Nowlan Park on Saturday: Online only.
Junior Northern final, Sunday morning, Dicksboro v James Stephens: Johnny cash only.
Quarter-final and first senior semi-final at Nowlan Park: Purchase in Supervalu and online.
On a positive note well done to head groundsman, John Coogan and park caretaker, Kevin McGarry on the brilliant condition of the UPMC Nowlan Park pitch for weekend games.
The surface was smashing, a credit to two great blokes who, despite busy times on the pitch, have the award-winning playing area looking like a giant billiard table.
Players may score lots of points and top class ground staff help them to achieve their goals.